Who introduced you to gardening?
Perhaps you found the path on your own. For many, it was a parent. For others, it was a friend that introduced them to the pursuit. For me, it was my mom. My mom has always tended a beautiful garden, from the wooded acreage of my younger years in Seattle to the sunny perennial gardens at my parents current home in California. Growing up with gardens shaped me, and I distinctly remember wandering a nursery when I was young enough that the plants were much taller than I was. A special world was tucked away at that nursery and I was not short on imagination. My parents are British, and I grew up with Beatrix Potter, The Secret Garden and The Wind in the Willows. I sincerely believed that toads had tea parties and flowers held fairies.
Designing gardens is a chance to create a little bit of that magic that the world held for us when we were young. I know that sounds cliché, but it is a true statement. I try to understand clients’ “inner gardens” because I believe that we carry with us a vision of the ideal garden space, or place of refuge. This is not a novel concept – it has been explored by several others before me. Sometimes this inner space can be evoked by a fragrance, or a certain plant or tree. I often ask where my clients spent their childhood to have insight into what landscape shaped their perceptions. My hope is to tap into a little bit of that inner garden. My reward comes in knowing that a client will take solace in their new garden, and if not already a gardener, possibly become one.
A few years ago, when our garden was being created, a neighbor stopped in with her daughter Willow. While we were chatting, Willow explored a wooded area and I heard her saying to herself quietly, “this would be a good place for fairies to live.” I was reminded of myself, and how gardens can vividly shape a child’s imagination. If you have the chance to introduce a child to a garden or gardening, by all means seize the opportunity. You could be instilling a life long pursuit. At the very least, you will be sharing a refuge that the child will be able to return to in her mind, and for which she will be ever grateful.
So thanks Mom – and yes Willow, it would be a good place for fairies to live.
my mom…where the fairies live
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Posted in garden books, garden design, garden information sources, tagged Ann Lovejoy, Beth Chatto, garden design books, gardening books, Nancy J. Ondra, Noel Kingsbury, Piet Oudolf, Valerie Easton, Zahid Sardar on 2009/01/29 |
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If you are like me, the only thing better than being in the garden, is poring over pictures of other gardens. I keep a robust collection of books and magazines for reference and inspiration, and I revisit my favorites when I have a new design underway.
Some well thumbed books at my house are:
Valerie Easton’s Plant Life
Nancy J. Ondra’s Grasses and Foliage
Beth Chatto’s Woodland Garden and Gravel Garden
Ann Lovejoy’s Handbook of Northwest Gardening
Noel Kingsbury’s Gardens by Design
Piet Oudolf’s Designing with Plants
And if you love modern design – Zahid Sardar’s New Garden Design
While I fully endorse supporting local book sellers when possible, if budget is a concern, many of these books can be found used at bargain prices on Amazon. Or, if you have a well stocked local library, you may find a healthy gardening section there. I often check out books several times before I decide to purchase and rarely leave the library without an armload of treasures.
So grab some books, kick back with a cup of tea and enjoy a little armchair gardening.
Piet Oudolf's Designing with Plants
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Posted in garden design, winter garden, tagged bliss garden design, Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’, Corylopsis pauciflora, Corylopsis spicata, Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane', Helleborus argutifolius ‘Silver Lace’, pots, Viburnum bodnantense 'Dawn', winter garden on 2009/01/25 |
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Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' backed by Anemanthele lessoniana
As I sit on the ferry headed to a client meeting, I think about how this time of year is right for evaluating design in the garden. Not sidetracked by the abundance of flowers and foliage in the warmer seasons, winter strips everything down to its essence. If we look out at our winter garden and still feel a sense of balance and interest – albeit the quieter and more reflective garden of winter – we will have achieved our design goals. If not, nursery visits this time of year, perhaps not to purchase but to browse, will give you ample information about how plants look through this classically dormant season. I say classically dormant because there are wonderful perennials and flowering shrubs that can carry you through winter, not to mention the color and form of some deciduous shrub branches. These winter or early spring performers tucked in around your garden may fade into the background in summer, but will provide you with such reward in winter, that giving them their rightful space is well worth it. Some of my favorites are Corylopsis pauciflora (buttercup winterhazel), Corylopsis spicata (spike winterhazel), Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ (witch hazel), Helleborus argutifolius ‘Silver Lace’ (corsican hellebore), Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ (twiggy dogwood), Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ (for fragrance). Paired with a balance of evergreen performers, these “off season” beauties will enrich your garden. Colorful pots also come into their own over the winter. With pots, I find repetition of color to be most effective. Choosing a limited palette and repeating the colors throughout the garden is harmonic and gives you a punch of color in winter. If your climate and budget allows, go for the ceramic glazed pots over the plastic or fiberglass pots. One of my favorite combinations is a saturated fiery bronze with a softer, mottled lime green. It’s not an obvious combination, but works well. Even unplanted, these ceramic pots are sculptural.
Winter color in the front gardens
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